My Longing Heart

Daisy Alone

Have you been longing to see someone? I’ve craved to be face-to-face once again with my son and daughter-in-love. The endurance it takes to patiently wait for the reunion is challenging.

Since they moved out of state our visits are few throughout the year. Therefore, it’s necessary to guard my heart from becoming depressed and fixated on the life I miss out on, due to the miles that separate us. I covet the phone calls and technology that allows us to see one another. It is sufficient for a while, however, there comes a strong yearning to be in their physical presence from time to time.

As I wrote this I knew in my heart it was time to plan a visit so I did! Not because there was a special occasion to prompt me, but because I simply wanted to be with them. It was then that my guarded heart let its protection down for a moment, and involuntary tears came as my heart expressed a joy that’s difficult to explain here.

Do you know the longing I speak of?

Maybe for you it’s to:

  • Reunite with a loved one in heaven.
  • Restore a relationship that once thrived.
  • Visit with family you have not seen in years.
  • Be rejoined with your sweetheart who has been away.

Whatever the longing looks like for you, know that you are not alone.

I’m mindful that while we may find comfort, fulfillment, and relief gathering with precious ones, our soul’s deepest longing is only quenched when we are in fellowship with the Lord.

Do you have a deep yearning for the Lord more than you have for your loved ones?

I ask because when our souls are satisfied in the Lord, we are able to bear the burden that comes with separation from treasured ones.

When we seek the Lord with all our hearts He will be found (Jeremiah 29:13-14), and He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:4).

As we struggle with missing someone we love, God says to cast our cares on Him, because He cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). He desires for you and me to go to Him so He may give us rest from the burden we carry (Matthew 28:11).

As I miss my son and daughter-in-love I can proclaim as David did in Psalms 63:3-5:

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So, I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

I’m able to proclaim the above because I experience the fullness of joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11).

Let’s not be so focused on missing our precious ones that we miss God in the present. Instead, recognize that God is currently with us desiring fellowship. Through that fellowship, He will strengthen us as we wait for what our hearts long for.

As our soul’s deepest longing is satisfied through our intimacy with God, our hope will be renewed and the pain that comes with the yearning will ease.

Craving to be with those I care most about is not a new ache in my heart. It is one that caused me to seek the Lord years ago in hopes to find comfort. In doing so, He has been faithful to meet with me, love me, and minister to me through His word and presence. I desire this for you, as well.

While there are some that do not know if a reunion will ever be possible, I know that God is able to place a healing salve on your broken heart, as He has mine. I invite you to be willing to be vulnerable before the Lord. Allow Him space He desires to meet your deepest longing. Spend time with Him today and be strengthened.

 

 

 

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The Bench of Comparison is Not Where You Belong

aaron-birch-230237Have you ever imagined what God might want to do with you? I have, but struggled believing He would want to. After all, it’s me. The girl that rebelled against God, sinned to hurt Him, put my fist up to Him in anger, and ran hard to create distance between us. Therefore, part of my past with God caused me to wonder if He would ever want to use me for His glory.

My insecurities often caused me to stumble my way to the bench at the sidelines, watching God do with others what I dreamed He might do with me.

Are you familiar with the bench?

We compare ourselves with others when we are not in the game. We ask ourselves:

Why does she have the courage to do what she does and I don’t?

Why does God bless her and not me?

Why are doors of opportunity opening for her and not me?

Why does she hear from God so clearly and I can barely hear Him?

The enemy harasses us by leading us to think God is partial to others. But, God’s word tells us that He does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11 CSB)

The following truth rings true for you and me today:

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1Peter 2:9-10 MSG)

Read that last truth again and let it soak in for a moment.

God did not save us from darkness for us to keep silent on the bench! We are His instruments meant to be used to tell others about Him and what He has done in our lives.

God desires to do much with us. With you! Yes, He wants our obedience, and yes, it will take faith that may make us uncomfortable, but we can trust God will empower us to accomplish His work. He is aware of our insecurities and wants us to be secure in Him.

Trusting that God can do in us what we cannot in ourselves causes us to stand up and dust ourselves off.

As His daughters, He will perform His purposed plan in us when we are fully surrendered to Him.

He then whispers to His daughter’s heart:

  • With you, I will make My name known.
  • With you, I will show My glory.
  • With you, I will set captives free.
  • With you, I will speak truths over the lies.
  • With you, I will be exalted.
  • With you, I will demonstrate that nothing is impossible with Me.

Friend, God wants to do with you what you cannot do on your own. He has rigged it so you would be dependent on Him to accomplish the dreams He seeded in your heart.

Sure, we will fall short from time to time in our walk with Him. But He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. (1 John 1:9) He is faithful when we are not faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)

When we stumble let’s not reach for the bench on the sidelines pretending we need a time out from the game or that we deserve to be there. Let’s instead stumble into His arms renewing our strength; so, we may soar on wings like eagles; running and not becoming weary, not growing faint as we walk, Isaiah 40:31.

Trusting The Lord To Have His Way Is Hard

amelia-bartlett-Country Rd“Have Your way Lord,” were the words I ended my prayer with as I rocked in my white rocking chair under the shade of my front porch. I was struggling with a direction God was leading me to take. I too often wrestle with God’s ways, and it is easy for me to question Him when the path He has for me seems difficult. Saying those four words at the end of my conversation with Him takes trusting Him.

Inner peace reigns within my soul when I willingly yield to His ways though.

It’s a serenity only the Peace-Giver can give.

We struggle with holding onto such serenity because the distractions that set us off track cause us to become frustrated, tired, and lose focus.

Maybe you try to have a quiet time with the Lord and your kids wake up at unpredicted times of the morning or, their naps are cut short.

Maybe you are on track with having God’s perspective at top of mind, and then a family member, friend, or co-worker’s actions rattle you. Your flesh takes over with a worldly perspective.

Maybe you’re headed to the doctor with a loved one with great confidence in the Lord to provide good news. As you listen to the prognosis, they are told that their quality of life will be changed from now on, and there is no hope in sight that things will get any better.

Alone time with the Lord, having God’s perspective, and confidence in Him offers inner peace. But let’s be honest and admit it is not easy to hold onto such serenity.

It takes intentionality to activate and maintain the peace already within us.

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27 NASB)

As we experience the downs of life we must get back up again. We must refocus on what is true. We must strive to seek peace.

We must because this world will always try to detour our focus away from God and onto the struggle.

Knowing this means that we must willfully practice the truth we know.

We know that prayer is the instrument that draws us near to God. Having conversations with Him connect us to His heart. We learn to trust Him, love Him, and know Him better. He uses our prayers to exchange chaos for peace.

Sunflowers

Prayer=Peace

The aches that anxiety, fear, and worry create within us take root when we doubt God’s goodness, lose trust in Him, or rely on our own strength. Our troubles and concerns may not go away when we pray, but God has assured us that we can have peace as we trust Him to have His way.

Though His ways are not our ways and our ways are not His ways, God knows what He is doing, and He knows why He is doing it, Isaiah 55:8-9.

I admit that I don’t always understand His ways. It even frustrates me and grieves me at times. But when it is all said and done, I can trust that God is still good. I can trust that He knows best. I can have faith in a faithful God.

I know that when I pray with all my heart, trust Him for His promises, and praise Him for who He is, the peace He has already given me becomes prominent. So, with little hesitation I pray, “Have Your way Lord.”

Friend, be intentional and let that be your testimony as well.

I Almost Slipped into Ungodliness

Woman on bench at chapel“My feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped into ungodliness.” Psalm 73:2

I found myself battling once again on the battle field of my mind. It reminded me afresh of my fleshly tendencies. This time my thoughts began with defending myself if the occasion should arise to have a real dialogue with a person or two. I crafted a reasonable conversation within my mind thinking I settled it.

However, it wasn’t enough. I needed to bring more passion to the conversation within my mind standing firm in my justification of my position. Once again, it wasn’t enough.

Oh, my goodness how I should have stopped myself sooner because I scratched those two drafts and started a brash one that would mow down anything standing in my way.

My thoughts became unharnessed and were not led by the Spirit.

It wasn’t until I came to God, completely undone this time, that I realized I had drawn away from Him. I became consumed day after day with the battle of what I wanted to say out loud, but was not able to. My fleshy desires placed a void between me and God.

I found that Psalm 73:21-22 put my experience into harsh, but accurate words.

“When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant, I was like a beast before You.”

Have you drawn away from the Lord with just one thought that led to your complete senselessness?

Maybe your thoughts of defending yourself led to bitterness in your heart.

Maybe your thoughts of walking away from a situation created a hardness in your soul.

Maybe your thoughts of becoming self-sufficient led to isolation.

Nonetheless, if you are in Christ He is still there to help you. God won’t leave you alone in your beastly mess. You only need to recognize He hasn’t left. He is waiting to take you by the hand to help you have victory on the battle field of your mind.

There is a Psalm of Asaph that conveys a truth about God and ourselves that reminds us of this truth.

“Nevertheless, I am continually with You. You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward, receive me to glory (or with honor). Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 74:23-26)

No matter what kind of mess you may be in God is with you. He will guide you through your pitfalls of life, and will not let you go. Open your heart and mind to God! His plan for you is to have a steadfast peace as you fix your thoughts on Him.  If we look and focus in any other direction we will become senseless and our hearts will fail us.

Maybe your feet have come close to stumbling and your steps have almost slipped into ungodliness like mine almost did, Psalm 73:2. If so I implore you to STOP crafting those conversations within your mind and go before the Lord. He will guide you to victory. God will strengthen your heart like He has mine. Consider lifting your right hand up even now asking God to take hold of you and of your thoughts.

Don’t give up! The battle may be intense, but our God is greater than any enemy you are battling right now. It does not matter if the battle is taking place within or from outside, God is able to overpower all opposition to Him.

The nearness of God is good and when you receive peace, and newness of mind then tell of God’s great work so others may seek Him for refuge, help, and hope, Psalm 73:28. I just did, and would love to hear from you when you experience how good and refreshing God’s nearness is.

Blessings,

Jodi

 

Partially Used

Photo by Léa Dubedout on Unsplash
My sisters and two nieces recently visited me from out of State. It was like good medicine to my soul in so many ways. We woke up early sipping coffee, sharing insights from our past, and what God has done in the present. We stayed up late reflecting on pictures from new memories made during the day’s adventures. Laughter and joy spread throughout the house as we got silly from fatigue.

The day to pack for departure came too soon. As I searched behind them for anything forgotten I noticed a partially used bottle of shampoo left in the shower. I mentioned it a few times in hopes they would not forget it. However, when they left it was still there. As I examined the red bottle it became familiar to me. It dawned on me that it had been in my shower for several months untouched.

I had purchased another shampoo that I felt would better suit my needs rather than finishing the bottle I had. Over time I became blind to the fact it was still sitting there, partially used.

Sometimes we become blind to the fact God is right beside us, partially used.

We use Him in the moment of need, and become complacent that He is there.

We become distracted with something or someone else causing our hearts to drift from God.

We receive His peace, provision, or protection forfeiting glory due Him because our self-sufficiency kicks in.

God promises to never leave us nor forsake us and yet that is the very thing we do to Him. God may be on our lips but far from our mind, Jeremiah 12:2b.

Friend, the Lord desires us to understand and know Him; To know that He is the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, and He delights in these things, Jeremiah 9:24b.

He designed it so that when we continually abide or remain in Him He will bless us. Consider the following:

Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8 CSB)

Perhaps you struggle to remain in a consistent relationship with God. I believe most of us are guilty of that from time to time.

Maybe you have the best intentions to do better at acknowledging, praising, and fellowshipping with Him on a regular basis. You may even be successful for a week or two and then your attention is onto something or someone else. When you do you miss out on the abundant life God desires to grant you, John 10:10.

Be encouraged in knowing God is a patient God, 2 Peter 3:9! I am so thankful He is! Aren’t you?

Let’s not become defeated by our lack of commitment, but instead, strive for victory by having our hearts and minds fixed on Him. Acknowledge Him in all our ways by inviting God in the details of life. The more we practice inviting Him in the more consistent we become in our fellowship with Him. Pray for God to help you Know Him more. I dare you to pray that every morning you wake up! I do and He is faithful to open my eyes to see and know Him better.

He used a shampoo bottle to get my attention. What is He using to get your attention? Don’t ignore it! Examine it and ask God to open your eyes to what you are missing.

 

 

 

 

4 Steps to Love God With Your M.I.N.D.

Reading book

Sometimes I wonder if I am doing all I can to love God. That may sound like a strange statement, but it’s honest. As I fight the battle between the flesh and spirit I find myself growing weary of giving God my all.

Recently, I read a familiar passage of scripture that washed over my spirit convicting me to take a closer look. The scripture comes from Matthew 22:37… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

While reading it the Lord said, “Jodi, are you loving Me with all of your mind?

Whoa! I knew I was loving Him with all my heart and soul, but I could not say yes to His question. So, I replied with a question:

“Lord, how am I supposed to love you with all of my mind when my thoughts are battling between right and wrong, lies and truth…?”

Do you love God with all your mind, or would you be asking God the same question I did?

God is aware of the difficulty we experience loving Him as He desires us to. Knowing this He has provided us with a powerful weapon that can overthrow the enemy of our mind. His word!

The question is whether or not we will use it. But to use it we must believe God’s word, surrender to it, and live it out.

Are we going to give in and let the flesh win because we are tired of fighting the enemy or will we unleash the power of the Word and claim ground that is the Lord’s?

If God wants us to love Him with our mind, and He does, then no wonder the battle is so intense. The enemy is threatened when our minds are fixed on Christ because we live in peace. (Isaiah 26:3)

The enemy, Satan, is a deceiver, liar, thief, and seeks to distract our thoughts in hopes to lead us down a path of destruction (1 Peter 5:8).

I am willing to stay in the fight using the weapon, the word, God has provided. Are you?

To strengthen my resolve to stay in the battle I created a four-step process using an acronym with the word MIND. (By the way this is God’s answer to my question to Him.)

To help us recall M.I.N.D. click HERE for a printable.

While the process sounds simple, the application of it will prove its need of preparation, awareness, perseverance, and unyielding commitment.

Meditate

Intentionally ponder about God’s truths, and His promises. Recall times He answered your prayers, provided, protected, and proved His awareness of you. The more you meditate on His word and track history the more you will have your mind fixed on Him.

*Create 3×5 cards with scriptures that encourage you, remind you to love God, and inspire you to worship Him. Place them in your car, on your desk, and on your mirror.

Identify

What causes your thoughts to drift away from God? Identify the pitfalls, triggers, so you can be on guard the next time they encroach. Knowing is half the battle.  Take comfort in the knowledge that His word heals and delivers us from destructions (Psalm 107:20).

Navigate

God’s word is a lamp guiding our path, so use it as you navigate a new thought pattern (Psalm 119: 105).  Begin by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2).  Think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8).

Declare

Make a commitment declaring that you cannot do this without Him, but with Him you will be victorious (John 15:5).  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it (Philippians 4:13).  Declare that you will strive daily to love Him with all your mind (Psalm 37:5).

By the time you have gone through “M.I.N.D.”, you will find your thoughts have been redirected, and you now have the upper hand. Let’s not give up on fighting the flesh so that the spirit may win. God is our strength!

The next time your thoughts are unhealthy, destructive, untrue, or deceptive pause and remember “MIND” (Meditate-Identify-Navigate-Declare). Practice until it becomes second nature.

I pray that when God asks us if we are loving Him with all our mind we will all say, “YES,” and with all our heart and soul, too.

When loneliness invites company

Young woman enjoying the nature

Have you ever felt lonely? I imagine everyone has felt it at some point in their lives. To be honest I struggle with it more than I care to admit. Sometimes the loneliness is short lived and other times it is a lengthy battle. I know I am losing when I hear the Enemy whispering lies and I begin wondering if there is any truth in them.

Lies such as:

  • Your friends have forgotten about you.
  • You are not needed.
  • Protect your heart, and keep others at a distance.
  • No one else feels the loneliness you do.
  • You are all alone.

Has the Enemy whispered similar lies to you?

When we are in a state of loneliness, the suffocation of it can prevent us from fighting. We fall limp at the feet of the Enemy hoping for a glimmer of light from God to strengthen us.

During one of my battles of loneliness, I went before the Lord and pleaded for His help. I asked for His light to shine in my darkness. I needed to hear His truth about my situation, feelings, thoughts, and fears. I went to Him because He has never lied to me and He can be trusted.

He led me to the book of Psalms 62-63. As my eyes fell upon Psalms 62:10 my heart sank deep within.

“Do not trust in oppression.”

The Mariam Webster dictionary describes oppress as a sense of being weighed down in body or mind:  depression an oppression of spirits

It was clear to me that I was trusting the whispers of defeat, despair, and desolation. But the battle between my heart and mind raged as they conflicted one another.

Then the Lord drew my eyes back up to Psalms 62:8

“Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.”

As I began pouring my heart out to God and choosing to trust Him, rather than in my oppression, something began to happen. His light began to overpower my darkness. The battle between my heart and thoughts were beginning to properly align.

However, there was one more step He led me to take.

The step was found in Psalms 63:3

“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.”

I craved His lovingkindness because this life was feeling bleak. I knew I was to praise Him not just within my heart and mind, but out-loud. This sounds like a simple action step, but when we are in despair, depressed, and lonely it can feel like a daunting task. At first, my words came out as a mumble. However, the more I spoke of His glory, might, power, and majesty I became overwhelmed by His presence with stronger pronunciation.

My loneliness had invited God to join me for company. The battle was won because God heard my praise and my cry for help! My breathing became deeper, thoughts clearer, and eyes brighter. The truth was prevailing and my trust was no longer in my oppression but in almighty God.

Are you in need of His presence? Praise Him out-loud.

Are you in need of His power? Trust Him to do what He says He can do.

Are you in need of His truth? Go to His word and let the truth set you free.

The next time we sense the darkness of loneliness crouching over us, let’s be quicker to turn to God and praise Him. Praise Him with a LOUD voice, because the Enemy cannot withstand our praise to the God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings. There is power in His name!

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.